Department 'Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia'

Economic Anthropology | Religion, Civil Society, and Morality

Social Support and Kinship in China and Vietnam | Historical Anthropology


The department headed by Chris Hann between 1999 and 2021 pursued diverse interests. More than half of the projects undertaken were in the field of economic anthropology, broadly construed. Many cast a critical eye over postsocialist transformations in the former Soviet bloc, while projects on social support and domestic economy explored “reform” variants of socialism in China and Vietnam. Changes and long-term continuities in religion and ritual also figured prominently.
The specification of Eurasia referred not to contemporary area studies but to a long-term perspective on human history. The intention was to redress social anthropology’s bias to the ethnographic present and to the Global South and thereby contribute to the discipline’s morphing into a truly global historical social science. An advanced grant from the European Research Council to Chris Hann Realising Eurasia. Civilisation and Moral Economy in the Twenty-First Century  (2014-2020) epitomised these goals.
At various times, the department boasted strong regional clusters, notably for Siberia (the basis for a subsequent interdepartmental Siberian Studies Centre , 2002-2012); for the Caucasus  (comparative investigations of citizenship led by Minerva Professor Lale Yalçın-Heckmann, 2003-2008); and for Vietnam  (research on small-scale trade led by Minerva Professor Kirsten W. Endres, 2011-2016). Research groups of varying size and duration were also led by Christoph Brumann (Cultural Heritage ) and Dittmar Schorkowitz (Historical Anthropology ). Catherine Alexander, Stephen Gudeman, Don Kalb and Jonathan Parry co-led postdoctoral teams in economic anthropology. In addition to Chris Hann’s ERC grant, projects with third party funding were led by Deema Kaneff, Frances Pine, Kinga Sekerdej and Ingo W. Schroeder.
Collaborative relations were established with colleagues locally (in Mitteldeutschland), regionally (especially in the framework of the Visegrád Anthropologists’ Network) , and in many other parts of the landmass, from Beijing to Budapest. Together with partners at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, the department ran an International Max Planck Research School between 2012 and 2021. As of early 2023, ANARCHIE  (Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Eurasia) has generated over thirty doctoral dissertations.
Between 2017 and 2022, the department cooperated with the Department of Social Anthropology at Cambridge University and the Department for the Study of Religious Diversity at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity at Göttingen in the Max Planck – Cambridge Centre for the Study of Ethics, Economy and Social Change (MAX-CAM) .    
From 2011, the department sponsored the annual Goody Lecture .  
Between 2003 and 2023, its series with LIT Verlag Halle Studies in the Anthropology of Eurasia  published fifty volumes.

Further Reading:

Chris Hann: Profile, CV, Publications
SUMMARY: Twenty Years of Eurasia (extract from Advisory Board report, 2017-19)
Jennifer Cash (ed): Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia, 1999-2014.
Report on Activities, 2014-2016.
Report on Activities, 2017-2019
Report on Activities, 2020-2022

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